Shade Tolerant Fruits?

Hello everyone,

As some of you may have seen in my introduction thread, I’m diving in head first this spring & I could use some input on deciding where things should/shouldn’t be planted. My main concern for this thread is trying to figure out which fruits I can plant in a shadier spot and get away with it. I’ve read that pawpaw like somewhere in the 4 hour range of light for their first few years, but what other fruits won’t suffer in quality in spots with only 6 hours of light? I’ve read comments here that berries, persimmons, mulberries & plums will do OK in shadier spots. What do you recommend?

This is what I’m growing to make things easier: Cultivar List - Google Sheets

Wineberries are quite shade tolerant. Black raspberries too, not quite as much though. I can probably give you some tip rooted black raspberries in summer if you wanted.

I have Jostaberries in an area that is mostly shade. They are doing quite well.

I never really thought about black raspberries as being shade tolerant but that really makes sense. Often you see them produce well in the wild here on edges where fields and timber meet. How many hours of sun do you think they require?

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I’m inclined to say 6 hours, but I don’t really know.

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Thanks for the offer, Kelby, but I’ve got all the raspberries I need! What about blackberries? Are they shade tolerant as well?

I don’t think so.

From what I’ve seen “tolerant” really is the word to use, in that they won’t like it, but they can live with it. Seems like everything will fruit far more copiously in full sun, even if it manages to get by in shade.

That said, pawpaw can clearly handle shade, since they are heavily shaded where I collect them in the wild. Black raspberries and other brambles will also manage, but with less fruit (I tend to see these in fields and on the edge of woods in the wild, not deep in the woods). I would expect blueberries to handle shade well, given how they grow in the wild.

Mulberries are the honeybadgers of the fruit tree world; they don’t care. I’ve got one in my woods that fruits just fine.

They’re not on your list, but I’m researching the following for shaded fruit production:
My thinking there is that when it comes to shade, ground-covers are the best bet, since in the wild they really have no choice but to handle shade.

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It’s going to end up being a matter of trial and error. Shade and sun intensity are locale specific. Where I live most plants said to require full sun do well with only partial sun. As for fruit, strawbs and brambles do well here in only morning sun.

I’m not sure if the plant will grow in your area,but the Evergreen Huckleberry will actually grow bigger in the shade,but fruit less.The cousin,Red Huckleberry may also be a candidate.I found them often growing under large trees,full of berries. Brady

Ross, how many hours of sun do you have? There are some fruits that can produce with less than 6 hrs. It would be nice to see a scientific study on types and varieties that can produce with less than 6 or even 4 hrs of sun. Quality of fruit is also an issue. Also as @MrClint says Shade and sun intensity are locale specific.

I’ve read Honeyberry can be grown with some shade. I just moved some to an area with about 4 hrs of sun and will see how they do.

I think it is possible that some varieties within a type are more tolerant of partial shade. I’ve seen wild blueberries fruiting in areas that looked shaded. I planted Jersey and Blue Crop in a spot that gets partial sun. The Blue Crop is doing poorly but the Jersey is a heavy producer. When the trees leaf out this year I’ll check how many hrs of sun they get.

I tried huckleberry once here (I’m not too far from Ross) and it didn’t make the winter. Maybe a bum plant, who knows.

So I’m 100% clear, by brambles you mean… blackberries & raspberries?

Some parts of my yard only get 6, which is why I’m wondering if I can make use of it. I imagine that most early ripening varieties will tolerate shade better. At least that’s how it is for figs.

PawPaw grows naturally in the wild as an understory tree so I highly recommend it for you if you’re concerned about shade tolerance. I’ve walked through pawpaw groves 100 feet thick growing understory here, it’s like walking through a bamboo grove.

Most berries you should also do okay with in the shade.

Plums I’m sure you can grow them but they may not develop full flavour compared to when grown in full sun and they will probably be more susceptible to disease and adopt a more upright growth habit if they’re stressed for light. That means more work for you for a lower quality fruit (better than the store though). So I wouldn’t recommend plums in shady areas.

Pawpaws do well in shade, if you have the patience to wait for them to mature, which can take many years.

I have found that red raspberries can do fairly well in part shade too.

You might even have some limited success in getting apples to produce in part shade, but their taste may be sub-optimal, and the disease pressure will be greater. Selecting a few disease-resistant varieties might increase your chances of success. My neighbor’s apple tree does not get much sun, but it churns out tons of apples biennially (too bad they’re sour & mealy; variety unknown).

I have grown Gooseberries and Currants in partial shade. I have two pawpaw trees I put in the shade backed up,to the woods. It has been at least 5 years and they are knee high. So slow…nice little trees, but boy do they take their time growing.

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I have been lurking here fro some time and finally found a thread I could give input on.

Last fall I attended a workshop at The Fred of Riverside(a garden festival). Riverside is one of the first planned communities where the entire city was set up like a park, quite charming. As an old planned community Riverside is a very shady place, so there was a lot of interest in what you could grow with limited sunlight. One of the classes was taught by The Fluffy Bunny, a guy who seems to have forgotten more about growing things than most people ever learn

Fluffy had a fantastic presentation. Part of it was a slide listing many types of edible plants that produce in partial shade. He posted the presentation to the NAFEX list last fall - Sept- Oct time frame. So you should be able to find it in the archives. He seemed to know a great deal about growing things in the shade, one I specifically remember is that one “odd” raspberry performed very well in the shade and seemed to prefer it. I can’t remember the name though.

If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, do it. It is hard to describe, but he is anything but dry and his enthusiasm fills the room. I attend a lot of gardening seminars and all I can say is, it was more than worth the fee.

Happy growing, Isis


This has been my experience. I also heard Fluffy’s advice some years ago and planted raspberries and blackberries in areas with little sun (2-3 hours). They produced berries. Not a huge amount though. I also have grown currants, gooseberries, and pawpaws in the shade. Pawpaws are the best, I get more than I can eat with plants in 1-3 hours of sun (which is now 6-8 hours though thanks to a maple falling on my house). I had some apples in around 5 hours of sun and they were almost worthless. 6 hours and you can get something from most common fruits, at least in my climate. Not a big amount but something.

This is the pdf fluffy released for those interested.